Category: Litigation

NGA and the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice have pioneered successful federal and state legal strategies nationally using labor, civil rights, and immigration law to defend guestworkers’ right to organize.

Many NGA members have defended their rights and the rights of other guestworkers in court, including the significant cases below.

For more information, including pro bono and internship opportunities, please contact Jennifer Rosenbaum, Legal Director, New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice,, (504) 309-5165.

On April 26, 2012, a federal judge in Florida issued a preliminary injunction (PDF) blocking new Department of Labor rules for the H-2B guestworker program from taking effect for 60 days. The order came as a result of a lawsuit by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several employers’ groups meant to block the new rules.

Below is a statement by Saket Soni, Executive Director of the National Guestworker Alliance:

“Corporations and their lobbyists have shown their true colors with this lawsuit. They’re so desperate to cling to a profit formula based on exploiting guestworkers and excluding U.S. workers, that they’re now blocking the Department of Labor from doing its job. They couldn’t win in Washington, so they’re making a last-ditch effort in court.”

“The DOL’s new rules make common sense and are badly needed. They would help level the playing for U.S. workers, and help end the explotiation of thousands of guestworkers. The rules are only a ‘burden’ to those who build their business on exploitation.”

“We’re confident that the DOL will prevail in the end. In the meantime, this lawsuit is hurting small businesses who play by the rules and don’t rely on abusing the H2B program to turn a profit. It’s also delaying economic security in desperate times for all workers.”

CONTACT: Stephen Boykewich, NGA Communications Director –

Razura Jiminez v. Vanderbilt Landscaping LLC, 3:11-0276, U.S. Dist. Ct., M.D. Tenn. (filed March 2011)

(Download PDF)

Mexican guestworker Hilario Razura Jimenez and fifteen other H-2B guestworkers working in the landscaping industry bring claims for including forced labor; trafficking with respect to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude; violations of the civil rights act.

Guestworkers employed by the Vanderbilt Defendants in 2010 assert claims arising from violations of their rights under the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (“WWTVPRA”); the Thirteenth Amendment; the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S.C. § 1981); and the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”); and claims for damages arising from fraud and breach of contract. Plaintiffs Hilario Razura Jimenez, Jose Manuel Guerrero Gomez, and J. Refugio Castellon Luna also bring claims arising from the retaliation in violation of the Tennessee Whistleblower’s Act (Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1-304 ), the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S.C. § 1981); the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 (42 U.S.C. § 1985), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and retaliatory discharge. Plaintiff Jose Manual Guerrero Gomez also brings outrageous conduct and false imprisonment claims for the Vanderbilt Defendants’ retaliatory private deportation.

Guestworkers employed by the Onesource Defendants in 2009 assert claims arising from violations of their rights under the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S.C. § 1981) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and claims for damages arising from fraud and breach of contract.

The suit alleges that “After receiving close to a million dollars in stimulus loans designated for job creation and winning over 2 million dollars in state contracts, Vanderbilt Landscaping LLC cut its labor costs by importing H-2B guestworkers from Mexico and subjecting them to a scheme of constant surveillance, threats of serious harm, and threatened abuse of the legal process, and psychological coercion to maintain control over them and force them to live and work in conditions that violated state and federal labor laws without the option to quit and return home or improve the conditions of forced labor.”

EEOC v. Signal International, LLC, 11-cv-00179, U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Miss. (filed April 2011)

(EEOC April 20 2011 complaint)

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Signal International, LLC, charging that the Gulf of Mexico marine services company violated federal law by subjecting a class of approximately 500 Indian employees to human labor trafficking and a hostile work environment.   The affected workers are H-2B guestworkers trafficked to work as welders and pipefitters in the marine fabrication industry.

The EEOC lawsuit charges that Signal subjected the Indian employees as a class to abuse based on national origin (Indian) and/or race (Asian). The agency charges Signal with disparate, discriminatory treatment concerning the workers’ terms and conditions of employment, as well as segregating them. Finally, the EEOC lawsuit alleges Signal retaliated against workers who opposed Signal’s unlawful conduct.

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Jiminez Martinez v. Cumberland Environmental Resource Company, U.S. Dist. Ct., M.D. Tenn, 03-09-0730 (filed August 2009)

(Download PDF)

Plaintiff U.S. workers unlawfully prevented from obtaining H-2B jobs working construction on state and federal contracts joined with H-2B guestworkers who were hired and faced exploitation in the construction industry to bring claims against their former employer and recruiters.  Claims include racketeering, failure to pay minimum wage, fraud, breach of contract, and retaliation.


Saucedo v. Five Star Contractors LLC, 1:09-cv-00268-HSO-JMR U.S. Dist. Ct. S.D. Miss. (filed April 2009)

(Download PDF)

H-2B metalworkers hired by a job contractor in the metal trades sector allege, among other things, that job contractor was unable to provide work represented to USDOL and the workers.


Antonio Morales et al.  v. Bimbo’s Best Produce, 8-cv-5105, U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D. La. (filed Dec. 2008)

(Download PDF)

H-2A guestworkers who were trafficked into the United States from Mexico and subjected to forced labor in the strawberry fields bring claims against their former employer Defendants Bimbo’s Best Produce, Inc. and Charles Relan in Amite, Louisiana.

Upon arrival at the strawberry plantation, Defendant Charles Relan, the owner and operator of Bimbo’s, subjected the guestworkers to a scheme of psychological coercion, threats of serious harm, and threatened abuse of the legal process to maintain control over them and force them to continue laboring in his strawberry fields. Recognizing that the cruelty of these conditions would drive guestworkers to seek to escape, Relan illegally confiscated their passports and visas.

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Castellanos-Contreras v. Decatur Hotels LLC, originally filed in 2007 the U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D., La, overturned by 622 F.3d 393 (5th Cir. En banc  2010)

(Download PDF of appellees’ brief)

(Download PDF of amicus brief in support of the guestworkers filed by the National Employment Law Project)

(Download PDF of amicus brief in support of the guestworkers filed by the U.S. Department of Labor)

This action was brought by H-2B guestworkers in the hospitality sector who were recruited by Decatur from foreign countries since Hurricane Katrina to work in the Defendants’ luxury hotel operations in New Orleans.  The workers traveled to the United States from their countries of Bolivia, Peru, and the Dominican Republic to perform guest services, housekeeping, maintenance, and other essential support functions in the hotel operations of the Defendants.  Like thousands of other migrant laborers who have been lured to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the workers in this case left their homes and families based on false promises of high earnings, stable jobs, and good living conditions.

The guestworkers alleged that Decatur violated the FLSA by shifting the costs of its foreign recruitment program – including visa, transportation and recruitment costs – to the Guestworkers to pay—leaving them in a condition of debt servitude. The Guestworkers alleged that these expenses, which were primarily for the benefit and convenience of Decatur, operated as de facto deductions from their wages and caused their wages to fall below the FLSA minimum wage.


David v. Signal, 08-1220, U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D. La. (filed March 2008); (H-2B metalworkers allege labor trafficking, discrimination, fraud, and other violations)

(Download PDF)

Class action complaint by H-2B guestworkers employed as welders and pipefitters in the marine fabrication sector, filed March 7, 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana collectively alleging violations of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA), the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO); the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 (42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1985), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and state laws governing fraud and breach of contract. Five workers also brought individual claims for damages arising from false imprisonment, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress stemming from Signal’s efforts to extra-legally detain and forcibly deport them after they organized and complained about this illegal activity.